Jordan Ayew

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Crystal Palace comes back for point in drama-filled Arsenal draw

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Sokratis Papastathopoulos scored early but saw his late winner pulled back by a controversial VAR decision as Arsenal threw away a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium.

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David Luiz also scored for Arsenal, whose defense was a strength in attack and a weakness at the back in providing a 2-0 lead and allowing it to disappear.

Luka Milivojevic and Jordan Ayew scored for Palace, the latter a star in the draw.

Arsenal sits fifth with 16 points, one more than sixth place Palace.


Three things we learned

1. If at first you can’t defend… Arsenal’s oft-criticized center backs took the goals into their own hands, and if you’re up 2-0 within nine minutes it’s gonna be hard to be the goat. Sokratis’ goal came with calm after Granit Xhaka knocked down a clearance off a corner, and he was back post when David Luiz poked home a Lacazette-flicked cross to make it 2-0.

2. …You’re still going to have to defend, though: Arsenal’s backs helped give the lead away within 40 minutes, with Chambers cutting down Zaha — or at least daring VAR to go the other direction — and Luiz losing track of Ayew. Chambers really struggled, picking up a yellow card in addition to some haphazard first half passing, as improved defense in recent weeks appeared to be a magician’s trick after multi-goal concessions to Vitoria and Palace within three days.

3. Xhaka’s Arsenal career meets flash point: Voted club captain to the consternation of many Gooners, Xhaka was booed off the field when he was subbed off at the hour mark. The Swiss enforcer motioned his arms to welcome more boos, then yelled to the crowd to expletive off, cupping his hand to his ear before ripping off his shirt and storming down the tunnel. Things are not good in North London.

4. VAR overrules Sokratis winner for… something? As of publishing time on this post, there’s no clarity as to why VAR found a clear and obvious error that Roger East missed on Sokratis’ winner. Chambers is battling for the ball with several Palace defenders, hands everywhere, as he pushed the ball to Sokratis for what would’ve been a huge winner. There’s a problem here.

Man of the Match: Ayew? Milivojevic? Sokratis? We’ll go with McArthur, who was quite good and supplied the match-drawing assist.


An early corner cause Palace problems and put Arsenal in front, with Granit Xhaka settling Gary Cahill‘s headed clearance for Sokratis Papastathopoulus to hit through traffic for 1-0.

He could’ve had two had Luiz not also been at the back post to poke home a ninth minute corner, as Arsenal had Palace at sixes and sevens.

Lacazette had an effort saved moments later, and Palace fans were right to be concerned for the score line.

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Aubameyang missed a chance, too, as Arsenal really should’ve had a massive lead when Zaha won a penalty off of Calum Chambers. Palace penalty usually equals Palace goal in Milivojevic’s world, and this time was no different.

Palace leveled the score just after halftime, as James McArthur‘s cross hung in the air for days. Neither Luiz nor Leno could get there as Ayew headed home.

As poor as he was defensively, Chambers was nearly again an offensive hero before sweeping a shot wide in the 62nd.

Arsenal thought it went ahead through Papastathopoulous, but VAR found a hard-to-pinpoint foul on Chambers as he won what would’ve been a match-winning assist. Baffling.

Wayne Hennessey made a nice stop on a Lacazette header as the match headed toward its final half hour. He’d late stop Luiz in the 89th with a result-saving stop. Zaha came close to equalizing when he turned a Christian Benteke flick toward goal and burned Chambers.

Crystal Palace comes back to stun West Ham United

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A VAR goal with minutes to spare gave visiting Crystal Palace a 2-1 win over West Ham United at the London Stadium on Saturday.

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Jordan Ayew pushed a Gary Cahill knockdown over the line after Patrick Van Aanholt equalized from the spot, as Palace moved fourth with 14 points.

Sebastien Haller gave West Ham a lead, but the loss keeps Manuel Pellegrini‘s side from entering the Top Four. The Irons have 12 points and sit 7th.


Three things we learned

1. Guaita keeps it even early: That blonde-shock of hair in the golden shirt made two incredible saves on Sebastien Haller and Felipe Anderson in the first half-hour, and the Spaniard has performed as a top half goalkeeper according to most metrics. Saturday was no different.

2. Team goal gives West Ham its lead: West Ham’s opener had the fingerprints of Manuel Pellegrini all over it. Anderson blazed down the left side, and both Yarmolenko and Manuel Lanzini passed up chances to force a shot or cross until the ball got wide for square pass for a lunging Haller to poke home. Beautiful stuff.

3. VAR gives Ayew the winner: A lengthier than usual review added drama to Ayew’s winner, which was initially reviewed offside. Man was it close again, but Ayew was in the right spot when Gary Cahill nodded a free kick to the edge of the six.

Man of the Match: Fredericks — Sent the ball to Haller for the goal in addition to a point-blank goal line clearance.


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Chances came for the hosts early, with Andriy Yarmolenko cueing up Sebastien Haller for a point-blank chance saved by Guaita and Anderson nodding to the keeper from in-tight.

At the other end, Ryan Fredericks made a goal line clearance when Zaha drove the line to set-up Jeff Schlupp.

Angelo Ogbonna chopped a shot over the goal in the 52nd, a prelude to Haller’s low finish two minutes later.

Palace was awarded a penalty when Declan Rice blocked a shot with his raised arm, and Van Aanholt finished his chance in the space normally occupied by Luka Milivojevic.

Van Aanholt also had a crucial intervention at the other end.

AT HALF: Manchester United trails, 10-man Brighton loses goal to VAR

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We’ve got goals. We’ve got red cards. We’ve got fun.

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All four Premier League 10 a.m. ET Saturday kickoffs have reached halftime. Here’s your primer to select which second half to stream live.

Watford 1-1 West Ham United

Chances and entertainment for days at Vicarage Road, where Mark Noble‘s early penalty was quickly offset by Andre Gray‘s emphatic finish of a Will Hughes through ball.

Brighton and Hove Albion 0-0 Southampton

Florin Andone has been sent off for the hosts after a gnarly challenge on Yan Valery, and further insult for Brighton came when VAR spotted a clear foul on Lewis Dunk‘s headed goal.

Sheffield United 0-1 Leicester City

Jamie Vardy may not tire of throwing parties, and James Maddison sure designs delightful invitations.

Manchester United 0-1 Crystal Palace

Possession doesn’t matter much if you can’t handle a 70-yard goalkeeper pass, and Victor Lindelof‘s lost header to Jeff Schlupp allowed Jordan Ayew as much time as he needed to slot past David De Gea.

United probably should be up a man after Gary Cahill chopped down Anthony Martial, but only a yellow arrived at Old Trafford.

AFCON wrap: Knockout round brackets set as Mali, Ghana win groups (video)

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Mali and Ghana claimed group titles ahead of the knockout rounds, and the bracket is now set following four Tuesday matches at the Africa Cup of Nations.

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Angola 0-1 Mali

Amadou Haidara of RB Leipzig scored the lone goal as Mali claimed Group E honors.

Mauritania 0-0 Tunisia

It turns out that all Tunisia needed to advance to the knockout rounds was a draw. Mauritania was not as fortunate.

Benin 0-0 Cameroon

Benin’s third draw of the tournament sees it through to the Round of 16 and a date with Morocco.

Guinea-Bissau 0-2 Ghana

Jordan Ayew‘s second goal of the tournament broke the deadlock after halftime as the Black Stars sent Guinea-Bissau home.

Round of 16

Uganda v. Senegal – July 5
Morocco v. Benin – July 5

Madagascar v. Democratic Republic of Congo – July 7
Ghana v. Tunisia – July 8

Mali v. Ivory Coast – July 8
Algeria v. Guinea – July 7

Nigeria v. Cameroon – July 6
Egypt v. South Africa – July 6

AFCON wrap: Pote’s beauty helps Benin draw Ghana; Cameroon wins

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All 24 teams at the Africa Cup of Nations have a match in the books as of Tuesday, and we’ve got another tournament surprise.

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Having already seen Uganda upset the Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar draw Guinea, this one came when Ghana met Benin.

It was aided by a red card to Ghana, but the 88th ranked Les Écureuils (Squirrels) of Benin managed a result.


Cameroon 2-0 Guinea-Bissau

Scoreless at halftime, Cameroon saw Yaya Banana and Stephane Bahoken score three minutes apart to give the Indomitable Lions the Group F lead on Day One of group play.

Ghana 2-2 Benin

Mickael Pote scored first and last, giving Benin a valuable point against 10-man Ghana.

The Black Stars went behind in the second minute on Pote’s first, only to get Andre Ayew and Jordan Ayew goals on either side of halftime to build a lead of their own.

But John Boye took a 54th minute red card and Pote potted his second nine minutes later to give Benin an early Group F bonus.

How about this sweep behind the leg?